The Speaker, Nigeria’s house of representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has said he will issue a warrant of arrest on Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and managing directors of banks if they ignore the summon of the house.
The green chamber leader stated this on the floor of the lower legislative chamber on Thursday, January 26, 2023.
According to him, instead of the House adjourning plenary till February 28 for the elections as planned, the lawmakers would reconvene on Tuesday to take an action against Emefiele and other bank chiefs who fail to show up.
On Tuesday, the house set up an ad hoc committee chaired by Alhassan Doguwa, majority leader of the house to meet managing directors of banks and CBN over the deadline for the withdrawal of old naira notes from circulation.
The meeting with the CBN was scheduled to take place on Wednesday at the national assembly.
But the apex bank wrote to the committee requesting that the meeting be shifted to Thursday because the invitation letter was received late on Tuesday.
While briefing the house at the plenary session on Thursday, Doguwa said the committee was dismayed “by the absence—flagrant refusal of the CBN governor to make an appearance”.
“The governor was not there and no other person came in place of the CBN governor,” he said.
“For those of them out there that are insisting that it is the policy of the government and there is no going back, we must tell them — it is not even legislation, it is just a policy of the government. When you come up with a policy that is impractical, it is the right of this house to take action.”
After Doguwa’s presentation, Gbajabiamila read a letter from the CBN signed by the deputy governor, corporate services, informing the house that Emefiele would not honour the invitation because he was part of a President Muhammadu Buhari’s delegation to Senegal.
While frowning at the letter from the apex bank, Gbajabiamila said it was unacceptable for the CBN governor to ignore the invitation of the house.
“The house of representatives, in response to a motion on a matter of urgent public importance, invited the CBN governor and managing directors of banks in Nigeria to appear before the house of representatives,” he said.
“They were invited to give reasons for the ongoing failure to adequately disburse the redesigned naira notes before the expiration of the deadline of 31st January 2023, when the old notes will cease to be legal tender.
“The house further constituted an ad hoc committee led by the majority leader, rep. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, for this purpose. None of the officials of the CBN has appeared or provided sufficient reasons for their inability to respond to the summons by the house of representatives.
“This is unacceptable. The resolution of the house was predicated on information showing that the rollout of the redesigned naira notes has been an unmitigated failure.
“This failure has real and dire consequences on the ability of Nigerians to conduct business across the country. The refusal by the CBN to heed the invitation by the house of representatives is evidence of a blatant disregard for the well-being of the Nigerian people who are their customers. It is also an insult to the authority and prerogatives of the people’s parliament.
“Therefore, if by the end of today, there is further disregard to the summons of this House, I will, without hesitation, and pursuant to the authority conferred by Section 89 (1)(d) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and order 19 (2)(1) of the standing orders of the House of Representatives, not hesitate to issue a warrant to the inspector-general of the Nigeria Police Force to compel the attendance of the CBN or managing directors who fail, refuse or neglect to respond to the summons by the house of representatives.”
Gbajabiamila also said the house “recognises” the CBN’s authority to “determine the country’s legal tender and to recall currency with reasonable notice, subject to the approval of the President.”
“The house is also aware that section 20 (3) Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act mandates the CBN to redeem the face value of the recalled currency upon demand, even after the expiration of the notice of recall.
“Notwithstanding the deadline imposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), this house will see to it that this provision of the law is honoured in full.“